Evocatively named, 'Land below the Wind', Sabah is situated at the northeast corner of Borneo, below the typhoon belt in East Malaysia. Most visitors are lured by the destination's natural splendour. Its rugged landscape is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, who can climb some of the highest mountains in Malaysia, and dive in one of the richest and least-spoilt underwater ecosystems in the world. Other extreme sports like skydiving and paragliding are adding to Sabah's growing reputation as an adventure destination.
The state's spectacular environment includes one of the oldest rainforests in the world, and one of the highest mountain peaks in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu. It stands within Kinabalu Park, which is the most visited of the region's reserves and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its incredible bio-diversity. Its two-day summit trek is popular. Sabah's diversity extends to the indigenous people of the area. Indeed, 31 different groups speaking more than 50 indigenous languages live in the region, creating a rich culture of music, dance and handicrafts.
Sabah is an expensive destination, with the only real 'budget' accommodation located in Kinabalu National Park and at Poring Hot Springs. Direct flights to Sabah are routed to the capital, Kota Kinabalu. Sadly, Sabah is losing ground in tourism, as ongoing conflict and violence against foreigners keeps many away. Travellers should check travel warnings before visiting Sabah.
Covered in dense jungle and surrounded by ocean, Borneo's enduring reputation for danger repels many would-be visitors, but also adds to its mystique. Sabah occupies the northern part of the island and its many natural splendours will speak to nature lovers. Hikers, divers and extreme sports fanatics will find lots to do, and animal lovers can enjoy the region's incredible biodiversity.
Sabah's list of attractions includes the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary, where visitors can watch and sometimes interact with the loveable animals in their natural habitat. The Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park comprises five gorgeous islands, which offer white beaches, coral reefs and jungle hikes. Sipadan Island is touted as the best dive site in the world, and is a bucket list item for any serious scuba diver. Sabah is also home to Malaysia's highest mountain: the impressive Mount Kinabalu. The two-day hike to the summit is one of the most popular activities in Malaysia.
Apart from its wealth of parks, reserves, and sanctuaries, Sabah has a number of interesting cultural attractions. Village tours and treks to tribal settlements in the rainforest are fascinating. The North Borneo Steam Railway offers a round-trip from Kota Kinabalu, which takes passengers through the Sabah landscape, and back in time, as the experience is distinctly colonial. Travellers who are interested in World War II history should visit the extremely moving Sandakan Prison Camp Memorial. It delves into the experiences of prisoners of war and the Sandakan death marches.
No direct flights from Heathrow to this Destination